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Your Garden: Extending the daylily season

Jeff O’Donal of O’Donal’s Nurseries in Gorham talks with NEWS CENTER Maine's Cindy Williams about daylilies that constantly bloom

GORHAM, Maine — If you love daylilies but are always disappointed when the blooms dry up after just a couple of weeks, you are going to love what the future holds.   Constantly blooming daylilies. And the future is here. You just can’t buy these new plants yet.

Jeff O’Donal of O’Donal’s Nurseries in Gorham is a daylily nut!  He loves these flowers.  He has collected, crossbred, and cataloged these plants for years, and has a huge experimental garden. Now he has come up with something new.  A daylily that blooms continuously for 6 to 8 weeks. It was 27 years ago that the first plant he used in this experiment was created through cross-breeding. It was a Barth Daylily rebloomer, meaning that it would bloom, stop for a period of weeks, and then bloom again.   

For years, O’Donal has been crossbreeding the daylilies to see where he could take the line.  What he has come up with is a plant that blooms for 6-8 weeks with no break in between. He named it County Road Encore. He doesn’t have enough yet to start selling. That is a years-long process. But he’s getting there.

If you’d like to try it yourself in your garden, you take one pollen coated another from one flower and tap the pollen on the stigma of another flower. They have to be the same type of daylily, but not the same variety. Mark that bud with a tag. When the flower passes, do not pick it off.  As it dies, and if the cross was successful, a seed pod will form at the base and will continue to grow over time, filling with seeds of this new variety that you created. In the Fall you can harvest the seed pod, split it open and plant the seeds. Then wait to see what you came up with. It might take a couple of years to bloom.